Support Builds For Scottish Birthright Visits: Ireland To Consider Irish American Student “Birthright” Style Trips to Ireland
The Republic of Ireland is definitely fired up about their Ancestral Diaspora. The numbers of Irish living outside of Ireland but claiming Irish descent are larger even than the Scottish Ancestral Diaspora – or so claims Ireland. Recently, Ireland appointed a special Diaspora Minister to build and maintain the strongest possible relationship with Ireland’s global ancestral team.
The Irish Diaspora Minister has now proposed, and Ireland will consider, whether the Irish nation should make sponsored ‘birthright’ trips for Irish American students available to significant numbers (‘tens of thousands’) of ancestral Irish emigrant families. This is a program based upon the wildly successful Israeli “Birthright” program that has brought thousands of young ancestral Jews home with tremendous benefit to student and homeland.
I recently spoke with Kingsley Aikens of DiasporaMatters.com about Irish diaspora policy and opportunities for Scotland to develop a more robust and successful program along Irish lines where there is a good fit. Kingsley is quite possibly the world’s most experienced diaspora specialist, having worked throughout the development of the Irish diaspora strategy and now engaged with several other nations to develop their own strategies to connect with their ancestral and other emigrants. He continues to be involved with the very successful Ireland Funds today.
I will write more about some of Kingsley’s keen perspectives in future blog posts but his comment about the overall Irish approach to diaspora relationships is just as applicable to Scotland as it is to Ireland and India and China and other nations. Today’s community of nations – without much in the way of exception – are embracing their ancestral diasporas in a way not before seen and benefiting from the extended hand. Today, a modern and robust national plan for true engagement of a national diaspora is standard operating procedure for any forward looking nation.
In today’s world of hyphenated identities, if a nation is not actively engaging with their diaspora they are behind the curve. Certainly Ireland has no wish to be there. We are hopeful that Scotland’s government under Nicola Sturgeon is similarly inclined as we believe the Scottish Ancestral Diaspora is well and truly ready to explore some great engagement!